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2020 Twenty: Tomorrowland

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

UPDATE: JULY 27, 2020

It was the most far fetched goal of my 2020Twenty. I knew that when I included it. I didn’t need Captain Obvious to tell me that. But I thought “Why not? Crazier things have happened!”. In a way it was testing the law of attraction.

Now while being far fetched, it's still a serious goal. It’s near the top of my bucket list. If I had the right friend to go with, it likely would be the best weekend of my life, so why not include something like this on my list of goals?

And then crazy happened. In fact I think “crazy” could sum up the entire year; and just like that I had a ticket to Tomorrowland!

Tomorrowland is known not only as the biggest and best EDM festival worldwide, but as an “adult playground” as well with the addition of “DreamVille”, a vibrant city that welcomes tens of thousands of festival visitors to stay on-site for the entire 5-day weekend. Located in Boom, Belgium each year more than 400,000 people descend on this site for two back to back weekends in July.

However this year, like all other events, concerts and festivals - Tomorrowland was cancelled on April 15th. But then on June 4th, Tomorrowland announced a virtual festival would go ahead in place of the 2020 edition. The event named “Tomorrowland Around the World” would take place on July 25th and July 26th from the virtual island of Pāpiliōnem.

Over the next few weeks as more and more details were released on social media, I started to get excited about the idea. The concept was unique and seemed to make the best of a shitty situation.

This past week once I knew I’d have some time available, and after they released the full schedule which included two “time zone friendly” options, I bought the ticket for €20 - a far cry from the €2.250,00 it would have cost me had I made the trip. And just like that my goal of attending Tomorrowland this year was accomplished.

Over the next few days the excitement grew as I poured over the schedule and selected which performances I wanted to see and which inspirational sessions I wanted to attend. All the regulars were listed on the full lineup. Armin Van Buuren, Martin Garrix, David Guetta, Tiësto, Steve Aoki, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and 53 others.

Finally Saturday morning arrived. With the time change of being on the other side of the world, the festival opened at 9AM here in the Pacific. Even though I had decided to watch during the “Americas Rerun” later in the day and through the night, I opened it up on my computer because I was dying of curiosity to see what this island of Pāpiliōnem was all about.

I didn’t even get to sit down before both my boys pushed me out of the way and proceeded to explore the entire island themselves. They were instantly intrigued, drawn in and fully captivated. For the next six hours the boys (mainly Liam) explored every corner of Pāpiliōnem, calling me over to look at what he found countless times.

Liam asked me so many questions as his young brain tried to comprehend what was happening here. Not only was this virtual world new to… well, everyone including Liam, he obviously has never attended a weekend music festival like Tomorrowland before. But it all came to him quickly as he figured it all out.

He saw that my favourite artist - Armin Van Buuren - was playing on the main stage at 2:25PM and unbeknownst to me, arranged his day on the island with that fact in mind. He literally spent time at each of the eight stages, found the interactive games in The Great Library, checked out the recipes in “Tastes of the World”, left a message for the “People of Tomorrow” and probably more things that I didn’t even see.

He liked the music on the main stage and kept coming back to it, but got extremely frustrated when NERVO started a new song with only one minute left in their time slot. He fixated on it and couldn’t let it go that the next act would have to start three minutes late.

And then 2:25 arrived. Well, actually 1:45 came first. While Liam was eagerly waiting for Armin's time slot to come, Steve Aoki came on to perform before Armin. At first, Liam thought nothing of it. But the more he played, the more Liam got into it. Half way through the set, Liam was rocking out HARD to this "new" artist and these "new" songs. He kept calling me over to show me "how crazy Steve was". His energy was electric and it had captivated Liam. In the end, no one topped the performance of Steve Aoki for Liam. It became the performance he would compare all others to.

Armin DID come on next, and Liam freaked out when "our" favourite song came on, but it wasn't the same as Steve. I think he was a little disappointed, and truth be told so was I. He finished watching the set and then went straight into the headlining performance by Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike. He wandered off to some other areas of the island during that time and found Moose Bar at the top of a snowy mountain. Here, there were two scantly clad "dancer girls" as he called them. He processed the entire situation and again proving he couldn't comprehend the entire idea of this virtual reality he exclaimed, "Daddy, those dancer girls should be wearing pants and a sweater. It's snowing there. They are probably really cold!"

Then all of a sudden the music faded and the island closed. A screensaver came up saying "goodnight, we'll see you back here tomorrow". His eyes got big, his lip started to quiver and all of a sudden he started crying. He had so much fun, he didn't want it to be over.

I was dumbfounded. I couldn't believe what had just happened. This was supposed to be MY festival pass and MY first time at Tomorrowland. Liam, my 5-year-old had just hijacked my pass and explored and lived Day 1 of Tomorrowland in its entirety, while I was holding his... juice!

Day 2 wasn't that much different. Liam spent the majority of the day exploring every corner of the island. In fact he spent a lot of time in The Great Library trying to find all the clues for the interactive game. He also found the Social area where everyone's social media post featuring the hashtag were displayed. It was here that he saw someone enjoying Tomorrowland on their TV, and he asked if we could do that too. So, for the last two performances of the day, we threw them onto the big screen and danced the night away.

For me, obviously it wasn't what I had wanted or dream of almost daily. I didn't get to make the trip to Belgium. I didn't get the official bracelet snapped on my wrist (although I could have ordered an "at home" ticket where a small swag package would have been sent to me that included a commemorative poster, bracelet and a few other fun things). I didn't get to set up in DreamVille for the weekend and make friends with my neighbours. I didn't get to eat the festival food - which by all accounts is some of the best in the world. I didn't get to walk onto the Holy Ground of the mainstage which measures 26 meters tall and spans 132 meters wide. I didn't get to be in person with 70,000 others who enjoy, if not LOVE this type of music, event and atmosphere. But then again, no one got to do those things this year.

What I DID get to do though, is officially attend the event. Granted it was with my 5-year-old and we were still at home where I couldn't really ignore my normal, daily responsibilities, but I got to attend. Forever in the history books of Tomorrowland, it will read that I attended - thus accomplishing my goal.

It required a different mind set for sure, but then again, what DOESN'T require that this year?!? I loved how instead of throwing in the towel like ALL other events and festivals have done, Tomorrowland reinvented themselves in a matter of three to four months! The artists embraced it too, which made it feel so much more real. In many ways this weekend, I was jealous. I didn't want to be an attendee, I wanted to be a producer again.

Now while I didn't have the time to explore Pāpiliōnem quite as much as I had wanted to, Liam made up for what I lacked. And I still got to see all but two of the artists I had wanted to. In an unexpected twist, it was Timmy Trumpet who stole the show for me this year. Martin Garrix who is quickly becoming my favourite DJ headlined the festival by shutting down the mainstage on Sunday night. His set gave me all (well most of) the feels that I assume I would have had if we had all been in Belgium. Especially when he ended with his newest song (and my favourite) "Higher Ground". Had it been a typical year, and had I been there, I probably would have cried as the song captures exactly how I've been feeling this year. And being in Belgium surrounded by 70,000 "friends", it would have likely been the most alive I've felt all year. Maybe I'll try again in 2022 for my 40th birthday! (seeing as 2021 is sold out already) Now, just to find someone "crazy" enough to make the trip with me!

"I'm down on my knees in the dust, I scream from the top of my lungs, I'll find my way back to a higher ground. Yeah, I just want to feel alive. Deep in my bones, I know I'm not there, but I'm close. I'll find my way back to a higher ground. Yeah, I just want to feel alive."



This should be #1 at the top of the list, but truth be told... I'm a bit embarrassed to even have this on my list. It's enormously unlikely this will EVER occur, let alone in 2020 but it's the "I can now die happy" item on my bucket list. I know I shouldn't be embarrassed because THIS is who I am, but very few (if any) people know that or understand it. In fact, even my wife's first response to hearing this goal was, "Do you even have any friends who like EDM?". Sadly, she's right. In fact, I don't think I know anybody who can even name a song by any of my top three favourite artists.

A month ago I was streaming a concert on my laptop with my headphones on while I was making dinner, and Lisa walked in and asked what I was listening to. Knowing how much she hates EDM I just replied by saying "my favourite DJ just released a brand new concert from Amsterdam". She responded by asking if it was "that Archie von Trapp guy". It was at that moment I knew I didn't stand a chance of finding anyone to share this dream with.

This is a European thing. Canadians aren't into raves and EDM. Every summer, over 400,000 people invade Belgium and see their dream of attending Tomorrowland come true. I wonder how many of them are Canadians. Truth be told I've never seen a Canadian flag in any of the live streams that I've watched in years past. Regardless, I'm 99% certain that none of my friends even know what Tomorrowland is. I'm also 99% certain that if forced to answer, they would say its a region in Disney World. This leaves me at an impasse as while its entirely possible to go by myself and meet new friends when I get to Belgium, I'm not really interested in making the trip alone.

Then there is the age factor. I get it... music festivals like this are designed and produced for the college aged students. The 20 somethings. And I would probably feel slightly uncomfortable - but let this sink in: The two biggest headliners Tiesto and David Guetta are both over 50! Steve Aoki and Armin Van Buuren (aka: "that Archie von Trapp guy") are both in their 40's. Age is just a number.

AT THE VERY LEAST!!! I want to see either Armin Van Buuren or Don Diablo in concert this year. I'm so upset that I missed Armin Van Buuren in May (2019) and that I didn't hear about Don Diablo coming to Vancouver in October (2019). Does anyone wanna rave with me in 2020? Or maybe I should alter this goal and spend the year searching for a friend like my wife suggested. Maybe I need to pay closer attention to who is coming to perform in Vancouver and start with a small road trip with that new friend. Then try again in 2021... or even 2022 and make it my big 40th birthday celebration! That would work... because house time is any time and any time is house time! (yeah I know... nobody gets it... that's fine!)


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